Sioux City Explorers looking for host families for 2023 season

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 10:47 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Baseball season is right around the corner, and the Explorers are gearing up for another year on the diamond. A big part of that involves setting players up with host families so they have a place to live.

“Without the host families, the Explorers just wouldn’t be the same,” said Tom Backemeyer, Vice President & General Manager of the Sioux City Explorers.

Every spring, the Sioux City Explorers bring in athletes from around the world to try to put a championship level team on the field. But behind every great team is a great support system, and for the X’s, that comes in the form of host families.

“We’ve got a 27-man roster and a majority of those need families,” said Backemeyer. “So, it’s a really important part of our organization and we’re really appreciative for those families that do it. It’s a commitment, but it’s also a lot of fun.”

In minor leagues like the American Association, players don’t earn major league salaries. So, living with a host family can be an affordable option. And, with their hectic season schedules, it also gives players an opportunity to relax and recover off the field.

“It is huge to just have that spot that you can go back to and unwind and take your mind off the game,” said Chase Harris, a 3rd year centerfielder for the X’s. “Because we spend so much time during it, it’s really important to have that exit to regroup yourself and get ready for that next day.”

For the hosts, it’s a fun way to help the community, and make your family a little bigger.

“It’s like having family,” said Elizabeth Kosinski, a second-year host for the Explorers. “I told them I was their adopted grandma.”

Before each season, the Explorers front office will work with manager Steve Montgomery and host family coordinator Diana Stokes to place players in the perfect families for them.

“Allergies and lifestyle and you know, how they live is big to us,” said Montgomery. “And matching them with kind of the same component.”

While all setups are different, all you need to become a host family is a spare private bedroom for the player. Stokes says that throughout her 22 years of hosting players, she’s built great relationships with them, and their families.

“You meet their family if they come to Sioux City,” said Stokes. “You enjoy that. You know, you’re walking up to his original family, and you’re going ‘hi, I’m so and so for the year, I’m their host family.’ And it just becomes a relationship all the way around the circle. It’s a full circle of life with that player.”

And those relationships go both ways.

“My host family situation has always been very positive,” said Harris. “And I’ve realized that these people are opening their home to a complete stranger. And if they’re opening their home to a complete stranger, they’re good people.”

“I had back-to-back years where I had a host family,” said Montgomery. “I still keep in contact with those people today, and like I said, it’s built a lifelong memory for me, and they are a part of my extended family.”

Host families get perks, like free X’s season tickets, access to a special “meet the players” event, and an end-of-year celebration.

The X’s need 4-to-8 more host families for this season but will gladly welcome anyone who wants to host. If you’re interested, you can call the Explorers’ front office at (712) 277-9467.